Hewlett-Packard today said it will significantly lower the cost of its 3PAR StoreServ 7450 all-flash array with new higher capacity, low-cost commercial MLC drives and hardware-assisted inline deduplication.
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Calling the StoreServ 7450 "flash for the mainstream," HP Vice President of Storage Marketing Craig Nunes said the new 1.92 TB commercial MLC (cMLC) drives with data reduction will bring the price per usable gigabyte to about $2. He pointed out that is about the same cost as 15,000 RPM hard disk drives.
HP disclosed the new drives, dedupe, thin clones and other features ahead of the HP Discover user conference, which starts Tuesday in Las Vegas. The new drives will be available in July with the deduplication and cloning software to follow in September.
Nunes said HP's adaptive sparing technology allows it to pack 1.92 TB onto 1.6 TB cMLC drives, which cost less than enterprise MLC SSDs. The 7450 will still support the 480 GB and 920 GB MLC drives that it sells with current models. The 1.92 TB drives cost $14,315 apiece.
The 7450 can hold 460 TB of raw capacity with the new drives, and the usable capacity is 1.38 PB with data reduction. The data reduction comes from the addition of inline block deduplication and express indexing.
With the release, HP is trying to prove it can compete in the flash market with an architecture originally built for hard disk drives.
"This takes the all-flash array into the mainstream," Nunes said. "The losers with this announcement are high-end storage systems where people deploy a lot of 15k drives in combination with a little flash and automatic tiering. We think this spells the end for those platforms because with auto-tiering there are situations where you can't deliver consistent latency and an all-flash platform can."
Nunes predicted the additions to the 7450 also spell the end for all-flash startups, including well-funded ($470 million total) Pure Storage. Pure said its new all-flash arrays bring the price per usable GB to around $3. Pure and other newcomers -- such as Nimbus, Violin, Kaminario and SolidFire -- delivered all-flash arrays before the large established vendors.
"Yellow is the new orange," Nunes said, referring to the logo colors on the 3PAR and Pure boxes. "This signals the end for some of the all-flash arrays from venture-backed startups. They didn't have that much of a head start and the wave they were riding is about to crash down on them because we now have a platform in the market that's more affordable with greater features."
HP calls its deduplication thin dedupe because it is powered by the same 3PAR ASIC that handles the platform's thin provisioning. HP claims data reduction ranging from 4-1 to 10-1 with no change in latency because the controller's ASIC offloads CPU cycles.
HP's express indexing aids dedupe by accelerating hash signature comparison to detect duplicate write requests. Its adaptive sparing works with HP's system-wide sparing to overprovision capacity and increase SSD endurance.
HP also gives a five-year warranty on flash drives and guarantees six-nines of data availability with a four-node 7450 array.
HP is among the few storage vendors without an all-SSD system designed specifically for flash. It uses the same architecture as its flagship 3PAR StoreServ hard disk drive arrays, but the company claims it can perform consistently at the same levels as other flash systems while giving customers tested 3PAR management features. HP launched its first StoreServ 7450 all-flash system a year ago.
Arun Taneja, consulting analyst at the Taneja Group, said he has always doubted any vendor can turn a storage system built for hard disk drives into a "genuine" all-flash array. But he said HP will prove him wrong if its claims of maintaining latency and performance while performing dedupe prove true.
"I always thought it was hard, if not impossible, to do an all-flash array starting with a disk architecture," he said. "Anybody can fill up a disk system with flash drives, but that's not a genuine all-flash array. The old controllers were designed with hard drive latencies in mind.
"But HP is proving me wrong by doing dedupe inline and not losing performance. I think it's because HP has massive control over its own 3PAR ASIC. Most storage arrays do not have that type of ASIC."